Social Support Processes and the Adaptation of Individuals With Chronic Disabilities
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In a qualitative study examining turning points in life, 15 adults with chronic disabilities (cerebral palsy, spina bifida, or attention deficit disorder) provided information about the nature and meaning of their social support experiences. The study revealed three types of psychological support linked to self-perceptions and enabling beliefs: (a) emotional support (valuing and acceptance leading to perceptions of "being believed in" and a sense of self-esteem), (b) instrumental support (guidance and provision of strategies leading to self-efficacy), and (c) cognitive support (affirmation, confirmation, and new perspectives leading to coherence in self-concept and worldview). The findings have important implications for service delivery with respect to understanding client needs for different kinds of support, especially at periods of transition, and for providing optimal experiences and creating supportive environments. In particular, the role of cognitive support deserves more attention in understanding the adaptation of individuals with chronic disabilities.
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